Boyfriend of woman accused of hiding dead daughter in closet will be charged

Santiago Esparza Jr. was arrested Friday night, Houston police said.

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Santiago Esparza Jr. was arrested Friday night, Houston police said.

The boyfriend of a Texas woman accused of hiding her dead daughter's body in a closet for almost a week will be charged with the same crime of tampering with evidence, prosecutors said Thursday.

Update 12:04 a.m. EDT Sept. 7: Santiago Esparza Jr., 30, who has a criminal history involving violence toward children, was arrested around 7:30 p.m. by the Houston Police Department, the Houston Chronicle reported. Family members discovered 5-year-old Sierra Patino's body in a closet Monday after they hadn't seen her in a few days.

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Police believe Santiago Esparza helped hide 5-year-old Sierra Patino's body, KTRK reported. The child's mother, Priscilla Nicole Torres, 27, of Jacinto City is accused of wrapping the girl's body in a blanket and putting her into the closet of Esparza's Houston apartment.

According to police, Torres said she was too scared to call 911 after her daughter allegedly died of ingesting chemicals Aug. 27, the television station reported.

Harris County assistant district attorney Gilbert Sawtelle called Esparza "a documented gang member," the Houston Chronicle reported.

“We believe he was in the apartment with Priscilla Torres and that they acted together,” Sawtelle said.

State District Judge George Powell on Thursday denied a request to reduce Torres' $50,000 bond, KHOU reported.

According to Savelle, Torres and Esparza stayed in the apartment for three days after the girl's death before renting a motel room in Jacinto City, the Chronicle reported. The couple then spent two days in Galveston before returning to Houston, the newspaper reported. Torres called the police after returning to the apartment.

When authorities arrived Monday at the Quail Creek Apartments in Houston, the closet had a foul stench, and Sierra had burn marks on her body from an unknown chemical, the Chronicle reported.

“This is a tragic incident,” Sawtelle said. “Obviously, Sierra Patino did not deserve to die at that age.”

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